Home Automation: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Recent advances in home automation allow remote access to refrigerators, heating and cooling systems, and even indoor lighting via smartphone apps. Home security companies also offer comprehensive home automation plans for a monthly service charge.

Have you ever sat in traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway, wondering if you remembered to unplug the coffee machine before you left for work? Relax, there’s an app for that.

Recent advances in home automation allow remote access to refrigerators, heating and cooling systems, and even indoor lighting via smartphone apps. Home security companies also offer comprehensive home automation plans for a monthly service charge, allowing you to periodically check on your pets or your kitchen appliances during a day trip to Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

Smart thermostats such as the Nest claim to provide energy efficiencies by learning your preferred temperature settings and adjusting your home’s heating and cooling systems accordingly. The Nest, and a similar smart thermostat offered by Honeywell, will allow you to change the temperature of your home from a Center City high rise if you’re working later than planned and no one is at home to take advantage of the cool air flowing from your air conditioner during a late summer Philadelphia heat wave.

Adding home automation is also possible using your home appliances. Spend a weekend shopping for a washer or dryer and you may be surprised by the amount of electronic gadgetry incorporated into today’s newest models.

For example, Samsung’s washing machines feature Smart Care, an app which allows you to diagnose the error code flashing on the digital screen and troubleshoot accordingly. Many of the latest washing machine models feature high tech control panels with thousands of potential combinations of temperature, speed and the ability to add steam for improved stain removal, so any extra assistance in decoding a problem will be helpful. New washers also feature automatic self-cleaning cycles, a form of built-in maintenance, which should make your appliance last longer.

LG’s Fully Integrated Dishwasher also has smart troubleshooting capabilities. A different LG model also offers steam cleaning, claiming to eliminate the need to pre-rinse dishes before running them through a wash cycle.

Whirlpool’s Smart Refrigerator has a built-in vacation assistant to help monitor your appliance while you’re away via your smartphone or tablet. Reminders to change the filter are also sent to the technological device of your choosing.

When dealing with this abundance of new technology, you may be tempted to hit a random button, slowly back away from your appliance and hope for the best. Or you may be an individual who’s ready to embrace change. Toss in a load of towels on the way out the door, and start the washer from the car.

Consider purchasing an extended warranty when you buy a smart appliance if you’re still not completely on board with this new era of home automation, and all of the exciting advances in clothes washing, cooking and temperature control. That way, if something goes kaput, in a low-tech matter of speaking, you won’t have to upgrade to an even newer form of technology any time soon.

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